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The Power of Oral Communication: 5 Lessons From Lincoln

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The Power of Oral Communication: 5 Lessons From Lincoln

I have read several books about Lincoln and his charm, his storytelling and his charismatic personality. In last two days, I read Donald T. Philips’ Lincoln on Leadership. I came away with five irresistible lessons to share with you.

Lesson # 1: An Introvert Can Make an Outstanding Public Speaker

In his youth, Abraham Lincoln was an introvert, however, as he grew up, he embraced storytelling and oratory. He did not give himself any excuses not to learn this skill because he was an introvert. If you want to be a good or great public speaker, do not give yourself any excuses. Step up and learn this craft. You never know how far this will take your career.

Lesson # 2: Extemporaneous Speaking Must Be Practiced

One of the hallmarks of Lincoln ‘s ability was thoroughness at preparation. He once said, “extemporaneous speaking must be practiced and cultivated.” No only did he spend hours, days and weeks preparing for his speeches, but he also never considered any single word or sentence done, until delivered. Do you rehearse or rehearse what you say at important meetings?

Lesson #3: Speaking is a Continuos Journey

Eloquence and oratory in oral communication is like any other skill. It is honed over time. It takes time and effort. The famous “House Divided” speech given at the Republican State Convention at Springfield in 1858, is said to have been the most carefully written and tested speech of his life. What does this tell you about how much work you need to do to raise your game?

Lesson #4: Public Speaking Can Make or Break a Career

On February 27, 1860 Mr. Lincoln gave what was perhaps the most important speech of his political career at the Cooper Institute in New York. He was venturing out to the East from Illinois and he did not want to fail his audience. He worked on the speech for over three months; researching his facts and choosing his wording. Thanks to that speech, he became famous out in the East, thanks to the press. Do you research thoroughly for your speeches?

Lesson #5: A Speaker Dies But His Ideas Live On

Thanks to his ability to speak well, his oratory, his storytelling and humor, we still remember Lincoln today. He has earned a special place in our hearts and minds. He was probably not the smartest president, but he certainly used oral communication to carve a spot for himself in world history. Think about how you can earn a place in the hearts and minds of those you serve, through the power of oral communication.